And the Award Goes to …

Awards shows are not my preferred form of media. It’s sorta nice to see beautiful actors stumble over themselves trying to thank their agents, but after a few teary speeches I reach for the nachos and consider a nap. The Genesis Awards were different.

The Genesis Awards honor those in media who expose cruelty against animals and work for animal protection. The awards were held last Saturday in Beverly Hills, and they amplified the work of good people like Jane Velez-Mitchell, honored for segments on her Issues program on CNN Headline News.

“These awards are changing the world,” Jane said. Really? Yeah, I think so. And not just because she said it really loud.

You put a lot of celebrities in a room and whaddya know, photographers show up. Media builds awareness. It does that every day for Coke, Pepsi, the New York Yankees, the New York Mets (well, maybe not the Mets, unless they become un-pathetic) and lots of other commercial interests. The thing that’s different about the Genesis Awards is that the media-makers honored become role models who encourage others. Their works become powerful forces attracting the problem-solvers and solution-makers, connecting the passions and ideas we need to fix everything. Everything? Just about. Take The Cove for example, honored on Saturday with a Genesis Award (and, recently, an Oscar). The film is a documentary with pop culture reality-show appeal that exposes the dolphin slaughter going on in Japan. It was director Louie Psihoyos’ first film. He told me, “If I can do it almost anybody can do it. I had a lot of help, not to disparage the real professionals making this film.” Did he think it would motivate others to make movies or take action? “I wanted this film to inspire a legion of activists, and it’s happening. Over a million people have signed up to help on this issue and other ones.”

I also spoke with Moby, a vegan who has found that media is helping even diehard New Yorker meat-eaters consider where their flesh is coming from. They’re still going for the flesh, but they’re trying free range and grass-fed – more sustainable and healthier. Moby has edited a new book along with Miyun Park that looks at factory faming and food safety. It’s called Gristle.

“Cruelty can’t survive the spotlight,” said Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of HSUS. “None of us can be a bystander.”

He’s right. Events like the Genesis Awards draw attention to the issues and use celebrity awardees and presenters to do that. But when you make a good movie even more magic happens. You get the problem-solvers interested in the issues. Then media doesn’t only advocate change but it actually engineers change. The media celebrated at the Genesis awards advocated a new model of service. Generating action, inspiring involvement and, perhaps most importantly, bringing the problem-solvers to the table who can really fix things.


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